When a crawl space isn't ventilated correctly or not well taken care of, it can attract a lot of fungus and decay, as well as bugs, rodents, and other unwanted critters. As soon as they find the warm, moist conditions of your crawl space they start making it their new home. Unfortunately, critters and insects aren't your only problem. Your family is also breathing in this humid air that most likely contains thousands of mold spores; these cause many health problems, the most common are allergies and asthma. Your unventilated crawl space can also cause your heating and cooling costs to skyrocket. The humidity levels take away the cooling effect in the summer and the warmth in winter.
Your home's crawl space gets moisture from water seeping through the foundation walls, condensation from the air, and leaking pipes. High amounts of moisture in a crawl space allows fungi, insects, and termites to thrive and deteriorate the wood that holds your house up. If you happen to look in your crawl space and see no physical problems with the wood but are still having problems, they most likely have dry rot, which is only visible on the inside of your wood floor joists. It also promotes the formation of mold and mildew, which means poor indoor air quality. If you or a family member have noticed an increase in allergies, asthmas symptoms, or chronic respiratory infections, you should have your crawl space inspected immediately.
Excessive Water or Flooding
This one kind of seems like a no-brainer but a lot of homeowners are unaware that they have standing water in their crawl space. Along with the previously mentioned mold problems, large amounts of water can cause warping and buckling of your home's sub-flooring -- This is most likely in corners or areas where floors and walls meet. If left untreated, mold will continue to develop and evolve and your home's structure will become extremely unsafe.
Cracks in the Foundation
The dirt floor of a crawlspace can easily become permeated with moisture if the area doesn't have a vapor barrier or encapsulation system. Again, serious moisture problems can result and your foundation walls will be subject to a lot of moisture which will widen cracks over time and let in more water. With more and more water entering the crawl space, the damage will begin to snowball out of control. Utility components in your wet crawlspace may begin to show corrosion on pipes, fittings, valves, and other metal parts.
Issues with Sagging or Sloping Floors
Even if you own an older house, sagging floors is never a good thing. There is something wrong and, even if it isn't due to a damaged crawl space, the problem needs to be addressed. There are a plethora of reasons your home's floors could be sagging or sloping and any of which could be due to a damaged crawl space.
- Failing support beams
- Poor foundation installation
- Dry rot or termite damage
- Water seepage
- Poor soil compaction
- Landscape drainage issues
- Excess moisture pooling around the foundation
- Foundation cracks
- Deteriorating wood supports
- Improper installation of the floor